How can we make it easier for people to send patches?

October 1, 2009 – 2:31 am

Thought folks might be interested in these two (short-ish yet horrendously formatted html) logs: a workflow bug report from Michael Stone and a brainstorm of potential solutions with Toshio Kuratomi and Dennis Gilmore.

My paraphrased short version:

Michael Stone: Hey, I’ve been trying really hard to contribute a patch to a Fedora package but kept finding myself having to jump through hoops; I plunged through anyway but was ultimately stopped by lack of creds. It’s frustrating and probably turning away contributors who aren’t speaking up like I just did. Might want to fix that workflow.

Me: Yeeeeah.

Toshio (in another channel, completely separately): I’ve been thinking about organizing the packaging guidelines [to make them easier]…

Me: Toshio, you should read Michael’s comments on the process.

Toshio: *reads* Yeeeeah. So, some ideas…

Dennis: *pops in* And yet more ideas on what we could do about this…

Some Time Later: proposed fixes!

  1. Everything except for the commit can be done without needing any account information at all; this isn’t really documented, though. Document it and make that documentation findable. This solves everything except the “it’s hard to commit” problem.
  2. Add functionality to fedora-packager so that anyone with the fedora-packager package installed can send a patch right on the command line. Imagine running something like fedora-packager-email-patch <name-of-package> <patchfile>.patch <your-email>@domain.name and having it go straight through with no account creation required. This would solve the commit problem for everyone who can install fedora-packager.
  3. Create an automated send-a-patch@fedoraproject.org account that only accepts emails with a valid package name as the subject line, and forwards any attachments that are patches to the relevant package owner via the (already existing) <packagename>-owner@fedoraproject.org email aliases. This would solve the commit problem for everyone who has email.

Thoughts? Takers? I might see if I can do #1 during spare time while hanging out with Pascal Calarco & Co. at Notre Dame this coming Monday.

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  1. 2 Responses to “How can we make it easier for people to send patches?”

  2. This needs some sort of tracking mechanism (patchwork?) The one big issue with patches directly to the maintainer is that there’s no direct tracking, and they can get lost/forgotten if the maintainer gets a lot of e-mail.

    By Billl Nottingham on Oct 1, 2009

  3. Nice idea. fedora-packager-email-patch should probably ask for a description of the patch and upstream status (since policy requires code patches in Fedora packages to have upstream status information associated with them in the spec file).

    it may also have to have separate modes for contributing adjustments to the Fedora build (a patch to the spec file, probably) or patches to the underlying source?

    By Adam Williamson on Oct 1, 2009

What do you think?